Looking to build your professional network?
A business card is the ultimate door opener. It has been for decades. But in 2023 there are multiple options to choose from and new approaches you can take.
This comprehensive guide helps you network effectively in the digital age and follow best practices so that you can make meaningful connections that turn into profitable relationships.
From choosing your card type and networking goals, to effective card passing, follow-ups, and FAQ’s – we’ll help you master the art of networking. Business card guidance awaits.
First, let’s see our guidance at a glance:
Now, let’s go into detail.
As you gear up to network, there’s groundwork to be done. It’s not just about flashing your card at every event.
There’s the careful decision-making process about the kind of card you’ll use, the information you’ll share, the networking goals you’re aiming for, and the venues you’ll target. Let’s take it step by step.
Determine your networking goals
Before you venture out to network, clarity about your goals is paramount. Are you aiming to boost brand awareness, seeking to establish strategic partnerships, or looking to generate leads?
Each goal may require a different networking approach, a distinct message, and a tailored strategy.
When your goals are well defined, they guide every subsequent step of your networking journey, including your choice of business card.
The business card you choose should be an extension of your business objectives and networking goals.
Here’s an example: if you’re a sustainable brand, you’ll want to ensure your networking efforts don’t counter your sustainability goals.
Equally, if you’re looking to network en-masse to generate new business, you’ll need to consider what business card type will help you do that most effectively.
Is printing 1000s and 1000s of paper business cards going to be the best use of funds and efforts or should you invest in a digital business card that lives in your digital wallet (cough, cough Doorway), is easily accessible, and can be used time and time again without creating waste?
These are considerations you’ll need to make.
You also need to think about the needs of your audience. If you’re targeting tech-savvy buyers, a traditional card may fall flat. Instead, a digital card or an NFC card could demonstrate that you’re as forward-thinking as they are.
Need help choosing the right type of digital business card? You can find out more information in our article: The 11 Best Digital Business Cards – Who, What, and Why.
Regardless of the type of card you choose, what you put on your business card is essential. Here are the must-haves for an effective business card:
- Your name and job title: This goes without saying, but ensure your name and title are clear. Remember, your title isn’t just your job role, but a snapshot of your skills and expertise.
- Company name and logo: Ensure your company’s name and logo are prominently displayed. This creates brand recognition and makes your card more memorable.
- Contact info: In the digital age, this isn’t just your phone number and email address. Consider including your professional social media handles or website link, so potential connections can learn more about you or your business.
- Call-to-action: This might be a prompt to schedule a call, visit your website, or connect on LinkedIn. A clear call-to-action guides your new contact in the next steps of the networking process.
Remember, your business card is an extension of your professional identity. So take time to choose the right provider and information that best represent you and your business in the networking world.
Here’s an article to help: What info do you need on a business card?
Figure out where you will network (whether industry networking events or at your local watering hole)
With your card prepped and your goals set, it’s time to think about the arenas you’ll network in.
Do your potential clients frequent industry conferences or local business meetups? Are virtual networking events or in-person trade shows more their style? Could you bump into them at local businesses or a coffee shop?
Perhaps they’re active on social media platforms? Identifying the platforms that resonate with your audience allows you to focus your networking efforts more effectively.
Should you go to job fairs to recruit new talent and make new contacts?
After all, networking is not only about having the right tools but using them in the right places.
When you’re armed with the perfect business card, filled with just the right details, and have identified where to meet your potential contacts, the next step is to get your cards into the right hands.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pass your business card effectively, whether it’s a traditional or a digital one.
Regardless of the kind of card you’re carrying, networking always begins with human connection. Lead with a warm greeting, introduce yourself clearly, and wear a friendly smile. This sets the stage for everything that follows, creating a positive first impression that resonates beyond the moment.
Before you delve into business matters, engage in some casual conversation. Ask them about their role, their company, or their experience at the event you’re both attending. Show genuine interest in their responses. This shows that you value them as individuals, not just potential business connections.
As you chat, look for common ground – shared interests, similar business challenges, or mutual connections. Finding commonalities can create a stronger connection and make the networking process feel more like a conversation between colleagues than a sales pitch.
Once you’ve made a personal connection, it’s time to make a business one. It’s a good practice to request their card first, showing that you value their information. When you receive it, take a moment to look at it and read what’s on it.
When it’s your turn to share your card, do it purposefully. If you’re using a Doorway card, you’ll open your phone’s digital wallet and show your new contact the card which they can scan with their phone camera. This immediately saves your details to their phone app.
For a traditional card, hand it over with the text facing them, making it easy for them to read.
Don’t just hand over the card and walk away. Wrap up the interaction on a positive note. Thank them for their time, express your intent to follow up, or suggest a future meeting if appropriate. A pleasant farewell leaves a lasting impression.
With these steps, you can ensure that your business card – and your professional persona – is received as intended.
Here’s how you can effectively manage the post-networking phase.
Meeting multiple people in one networking event can be a bit of a blur. But each person you meet is a potential business opportunity, so keeping track of who’s who is crucial.
You can jot down notes to help you recall details of your conversation along with their name. You can also take voice notes if you have a quiet area to do so privately.
After the initial follow-up, keep the connection warm by interacting with their posts on social media, sharing useful information, or scheduling a coffee chat to explore business opportunities. This is where networking pays off—by turning a single meeting into a meaningful professional relationship.
Here’s a timeline you can consider for following up with new contacts when networking:
Remember, each contact is unique and requires a personalized approach. The key is to maintain regular contact while adding value and not appearing overly salesy. Adjust this timeline as necessary for each individual contact.
Still have questions?
Below we’ve addressed some of the most popular questions people have when it comes to networking with a business card.
While the answer can vary depending on the size of the event, a good rule of thumb is to always carry more business cards than you anticipate needing. If you’re attending a large event, consider taking at least 50 cards.
For smaller meetups, 20-30 cards might suffice. And if you have multiple events in the same week, always stock up.
However, the beauty of digital business cards is that you’ll never run out. Providers like Doorway ensure you’re always equipped, no matter how large the event All you need is one card.
Following up is an essential part of networking, but it doesn’t mean you have to connect with everyone you meet. Use your discretion.
Gauge who could be a valuable connection or a potential client. Prioritize your follow-ups based on your goals and the potential value of the relationship.
In a sea of business cards, standing out can give you a networking edge. With traditional cards, the quality, color, or texture of the cardstock can make a difference. A unique design, an impactful tagline, or an interesting visual element can also catch attention. However, ensure your card remains professional, considering your industry and audience while designing it.
For digital business cards, standing out involves a different approach. A well-designed, interactive digital card can set you apart. Doorway, for example, allows you to include links to your work, landing pages and socials, transforming your business card from a static entity into a dynamic presentation of your professional persona.
With digital business cards, the question of how to ensure your contact information gets saved is vital. With Doorway, this concern is addressed head-on.
Each Doorway digital business card comes with a hardcoded QR code. When scanned, this QR code allows your contact details to be saved immediately and seamlessly directly to the recipient’s phone app.
This functionality ensures that your details are stored for future reference, ready to be accessed when a business need arises. You can rest easy knowing that your networking efforts won’t go unnoticed, and your contact details won’t get lost in the shuffle.
Design plays a pivotal role in effective networking. It’s not just about what information your business card holds, but also how it’s presented. A well-designed card can catch the eye, create a memorable impression, and even convey the essence of your brand or personal style.
In the realm of traditional business cards, design elements like color, layout, typography, and the use of space can all influence how your card is perceived. A sleek, minimalist design can convey professionalism, while a vibrant color scheme may showcase creativity. However, it’s essential to balance aesthetics with readability to ensure your key details are easily discernible.
Doorway is a networking tool loved by B2Bs and forward-thinking enterprises. The integrations the platform has with HR tools, its SOCII security certification, SaaS model pricing, and focus on sustainability align perfectly to the needs and concerns of these business types.
If you’re interested in deploying Doorway in your business, get in touch here.
Speak to our team